Climate action must not be derailed by conflict and crisis, warns Egypt's foreign minister

Ahead of the Cop27 climate forum in Sharm el Sheikh, Sameh Shoukry has called for countries to focus on the 'existential threat' facing humankind

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry urged countries to remain focused on climate change and not be derailed by current conflicts and crises.  EPA
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Conflicts and international crises must not derail efforts to prevent “this existential issue facing humanity at large, which is climate change,” Egypt’s foreign minister and president of the upcoming Cop27 climate forum Sameh Shoukry has said.

“The parties participating in the climate summit should realise that the core and crux of this conference is to address the climate change challenges and that it is not a forum to address any other issues that are not relevant to climate action,” he warned.

“All these parties should honour their shared responsibilities … We must make sure that the ongoing international conflicts and crises and the current global polarisation won't in any way spill over to this field,” he told UAE state media WAM on Sunday.

“If we go beyond 1.5 degrees of global warming, negative consequences will become unavoidable, and it will be impossible for the world to go back to where we used to be,” he said.

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He said that while the Egyptian presidency, which kicks off with the forum on November 6, has already begun working to encourage countries to increase their voluntary emission reduction targets and work towards meeting them, it’s also looking to discuss a fair recompense to countries being hit hardest by loss and damage.

“We all have seen the devastating consequences of the recent floods and torrents in Pakistan and the need for the Pakistani government to take measures to protect their people. And to do that, there must be resources for such countries to remedy these effects and to work to contain them,” he said. “Therefore, we hope there will be consensus and clear political will that will lead to the achievement of this common goal.”

He said that a large number of heads of state had already confirmed their plan to attend the conference’s high-level debate when it opens in Sharm El Sheikh in November.

“There are Egyptian initiatives that will be launched during the conference on food security, agriculture, green hydrogen, new and renewable energy, in addition to a call for ensuring decent life in Africa,” he explained.

“We hope these initiatives will be supported, not only by the governments but also by the business community and civil society organisations, whose roles are indispensable to ensure concerted efforts by all government and non-governmental parties to address climate change issues.”

Following from Egypt’s hosting of the global climate forum, the UAE is slated to host COP28 in November 2023. But Mr Shoukry said that Egyptian-UAE relations go well beyond co-operation on hosting the climate conference.

“It is a deeply rooted relationship of brotherhood, partnership and love that connects the two leaderships and peoples at all levels,” he explained. Mr Shoukry also pointed out that the two countries are this year marking the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties.

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There is close work being done between the teams of Cop27 and Cop28, he explained, but added that “the progress to be made within Cop27 will be echoed and built upon during the next edition of the event in order to forge ahead with confronting clime challenges in the best possible manner.”

He said that the UAE and Egypt have a “shared interest” in protecting the environment and developing renewable energies.

“We both are fully aware of the climate change danger and of the necessity of ensuring co-operation … This is the first time that two Arab countries are entrusted with this responsibility, and God willing, we will be able to fulfil our commitments in the best possible way.”

He said that he is looking forward to the Arab League summit in Algeria on November 1 as an opportunity to forge a unified regional stance towards the issues facing the world today.

“We hope that the Arab summit will strengthen deliberations on the besetting challenges and develop an appropriate framework for dealing with these threats,” he said.

“The Arab world abounds in massive resources and capabilities at the human or material levels that should place us in a strong position where we can have considerable influence in international affairs to enhance our ability to contain and address challenges and help our peoples realise their ambitions.”

He touched on the Palestinian cause, calling it the “pivotal issue for the entire Arab world” and insisted that regional countries needed to work together to ensure stability and security.

Updated: June 12, 2023, 9:50 AM